Control your data in the cloud with arkOS


Shortly after the computer starts up, you can control the arkOS web front end in the browser of another computer on the same network over the address http://arkos:8000. If this fails to work on your first try, replace arkos with the IP address of the Rasp Pi. You will quickly find this address by starting the installer again and using the menu entry for scanning the network. This will show you a list of all connected Rasp Pi computers, together with their IP addresses.

Additionally, you can restart the Rasp Pi or just the web front end from the menu. When you first log in, a request for user name and password comes up, and you should respond with admin both times. Next, the web interface Genesis launches, displaying a request for a new user account name and a new password (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The first contact with the arkOS web interface Genesis.

Genesis is a modular framework written in Python that interacts with plugins. These plugins install and configure applications according to the specification of the user. The name Webapps refers to a collection of functions that enable, with just one click, the downloading, installation, and basic configuration of applications like WordPress, Nginx, or ownCloud inside arkOS. This process is achieved with the help of already prepared scripts, which the framework executes with a single mouse click. Execution of a script may set up databases, preconfigure a web server, or adjust network settings as required. At the end of the process, you receive a link, which you can follow to finish the application according to your wishes.

The first step is to specify some basic settings like host name and time zone in the input screen, which is displayed after launch. At this point, you should also change the default host name arkos. You will also need the new name for the selection of the web front end in the browser. In the same screen, you can also make the unused portion of the SD card available to arkOS, which makes sense in most cases.

Additional general settings are available under the first of three icons in the upper right (Figure 2). Here you will find, among other things, the basic settings for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is now known as Transport Layer Security (TLS) [9]. This setting makes it possible to connect with Genesis via HTTPS. To do so, you need a certificate or an appropriate key. This setting is especially helpful when arkOS runs outside of the local LAN or is attached to an unsecure Wi-Fi network. In Genesis 0.4, this menu option also lets you set up and manage your own certificates.

Figure 2: At this point, you can configure general, mostly security-related, settings.

You should only enable Authorization to give an anonymous user access to Genesis for testing purposes. Under the same menu option, you will find network settings, downloads of additional applications, and the Recovery option, with which you can back up and recover the system state. The icon in the middle in the upper right serves as the user account manager; the right-hand icon is used for updates or restarts of the system.

The modules available under Genesis are divided on the left side into the categories System Monitor, Servers, and System. After the installation, there will hardly be any content. Because of the Rasp Pi's limited system resources, you should only install what will really be used. At this point, you can install the necessary plugins [10] and widgets (Figure 3). In Genesis terminology, plugins refer to applications and tools; whereas widgets are system displays for CPU usage, storage consumption, etc.

Figure 3: The screen for installing plugins.

Right after this step, restart the Rasp Pi to initiate all changes. An annoying bug appears every once in a while: Sometimes the login mask insists on requesting the old standard user name and password. In this case, you should, after logging in, change the user name and password again, and it will then be accepted by the system.

Administration Tools

You will find the widgets that have been installed to monitor the hardware and software under System Monitor. These system administration widgets include monitors for the CPU, hard drives, main memory, system performance, network, and system alarm. You can install these admin tools with the button Add Widgets in the toolbar of System Monitor. With the Alerts function, which is also located at the top of the screen, you can define the threshold values for the various system monitors that have already been installed. When a threshold is exceeded, a suitable alert is issued via the system alarm widget.

Under Websites, you will find the menu option called Samba-Share, which allows file sharing with Windows computers (Figure 4). If you have installed additional applications like WordPress or ownCloud, you can configure these web apps by selecting Websites | AddWebsites.

Figure 4: In this screen, you can complete the setup of Samba users and their access rights.

The Tools section provides a selection of essential tools. For example, Execute offers the quick execution of individual commands. With larger tasks, the console would be the better choice.

The File Manager is a simplified version of the well-known file managers (Figure 5). The user interface for the File Manager displays the file tree and allows for cutting, copying, moving, and deleting of files. Additionally, you can set access rights for the files. Several tabs with various types of content are available. On the lower edge, you'll see a clipboard displaying content that was most recently cut or copied. Notepad is a small editor for working on files. The Notepad editor supports tabs and features a bookmark option for frequently accessed files.

Figure 5: The file manager is simple and has a comprehensive set of functions.

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